Covenant Lands & Invasion

I'm curious what people's thoughts on this scenario are...

Imagine an old, powerful Autumn covenant, in a small kingdom. The covenant owns fields and livestock, which provide the covenants food and income, and has tenants who work those fields and tend the livestock. The covenant has a "live and let live" relationship with the local nobility and clergy and holds a respected position in the Tribunal.

However, all is not perfect. The small kingdom has hostile a relationship with it's powerful neighbor. Unexpectedly, the local king is killed in a border skirmish and the neighboring kingdom invades in force. Ignorant or indifferent to the covenant's claims, the invaders raid the covenant's fields and livestock and attack their tenant farmers.

Assume the covenant itself is a "typical" Autumn covenant, in that it is a fortified stucture with a force of grogs, a handful of powerful elder magi as well as a number of young and mature magi.

What do you think would to happen next? What do you think the covenant should do? What do you think the covenant would do (if different)?

I look forward to your thoughts.

First, I'm not sure what the king himself is doing involved in a "border skirmish", but that's a different discussion - for this, we'll take it as given.

It would all depend on the personality of the magi in your "typical" covenant, or those who were at home when this occurred.

If martial and combative, they might well take matters into their own hands and crush the invaders. If they're smart, they'd erase any evidence, or make it look like it was a mundane battle, and/or make sure someone survived with that impression. Some bad guys invaded, the locals crushed them - that's the story and we're sticking to it.

If more diplomatic (or just unable to do the above), they might try to "persuade" the invaders to reconsider. Some nobles and captains are quite impressed when a mage or four appears in their tent and asks a personal favour. Or, the more heavy-handed approach - a ReMe spell or three, and the noble/general in charge gives the orders desired - his short-term fate tbd by the mood of the magi, to survive or disappear as preferable.

(And let's not forget the Covenant Charter - I've seen some wowsers that would require all members be present and a 3/4 vote before any action is legally permitted. Joy.)

And then there is the question of succession - if wise, the Covenant will use the confusion to ensure that a friendly and cooperative heir will ascend the throne. If one is not in line, perhaps more unexpected invasion-related deaths are in the wind. (And they may not be alone - an unexpectedly empty throne is just asking for secret plots and political maneuvering from all fronts.)

Specific spell combinations and creative uses are endless. Illusions, mind-control, dreams, "natural" disasters, disguises, distractions, misinformation, sabotage, accidental deaths - or just PoF until the job gets done - they all work, all have advantages and disad's. But the solution will be found, and quickly - an Autumn Covenant did not make it through Summer by rolling over and whimpering when children pull their tail.

To me the key factor isn't defined by the covenant, but by the invading army. Was it a put up job? Who is backing the invaders?

An actual invasion by one kingdom into another is likely that the army that is invading will be at least several hundred strong, have multiple nobles, several clergy and a hedge mage or two tagging along. Just from who is likely to be in the court of the enemy commander. The army would almost certainly be too strong for the covenants turb to handle without magical support. Such a mix might be too large to wipe out completely without survivors who can testify, and the magically inclined amongst the enemy might be able to resist any subtle magics. A strong church contingent would make magical intimidation a risky option as they are not bound by the 'live and let live' deal and any obvious magic becomes a prelude to a witch hunt and excommunication of the covenant territory. Most importantly of all, does the neighbouring kingdom have any hermetic covenants? Did those covenants have a hand in sending the army to weaken/provoke the covenant into rash behaviour that can then be used to prosecute them hermetically or mundanely?

As an example of these considerations I draw your attention to the Triamore - Covenant of Luciens Folly supplement. In this the nation of Luxembourg invaded the Duchy of Brabant via the covenants lands. The covenant that had several powerful magi and a mundane fief including a decent turb. The covenant however chose the least evil path of hiding behind their castle walls and outlasting the siege, for which they suffer they chose to suffer disrespect rather than provoke their neighbours or draw more accusations of mundane interferance.

(I took the question to be one of immediate response - to look into the background of the invasion would be wise, no doubt, but a course that might not be as short-term as desired. Political complications and considerations could change a response infinitely. I took it as a generic wysiwyg invasion, without such.

However, while doing so, the fact remains that the covenant must either respond or suck up the loss. If a powerful covenant, maybe the loss is insignificant.

But I took this to imply that the loss was more or less unacceptable. As I said, additional complications are just that.)

It's a straight up invasion of a small, weak kingdom by a large and powerful one. You are correct that it involves hundreds of warriors and knights, lead by a few powerful noblemen and clergymen. Minimal magical support on the part of the attackers, just the odd herbalist or warrior with second sight or premonitions, a few pious men who have God on their side, a few more brutal maniacs who have the Devil on theirs... but no more than can be found of both sides of any war in Mythic Europe. No hermetic rivals involved.

As Cuchulainshound says, a generic wysiwyg invasion.

Here are the key elements to a response, imo:o Stop it, the faster the better.

o Keep Quasitores from wanting to investigate (and/or avoid leaving too much evidence.)

o Avoid later retaliation by invaders.
Just blasting them is a bit weak on the last two. Long drawn out investigations and diplomacy a bit weak on the first.

A coup-de-main, where you take out the leadership (by killing or other convincing) or the manpower (likewise) or even the supplies (unless they are living off the land) would all work. Fake orders would work, but would be a bit of a challenge, and only delay re-invasion.

In fact, given the situation, almost anything would only delay re-invasion, short of a lasting Mentem spell on the rival King. But one step at a time - and stopping this one is first.

Without specifics, it's hard to give a specific answer - or too easy, as hundreds of possibilities come to mind, depending on the mages and power-mix at hand. What were you looking for?

You know, you can always sue for peace and just send a mundane diplomat to the enemy to negociate. With good intrigue and charm, you might be able to sway him into neutrality so that your lands are spared. WIth a tribune, you can just be part of the expanded kingdom in same situation.

Kill off the war advisors that might prevent it.

The magi in question are from the houses Tremere, Flambeau, Tytalus and Guernicus. The weak small kingdom in question is Deheubarth (southern Wales). The strong invader is Norman-controled England. The covenant in question is Blackthorn (or at least my saga's version of Blackthorn... which means less mustanche twirling evil).

In 1093 Rhys ap Tewdwr, king of Deheubarth and present leader of the Welsh resistance to Norman rule died in a border conflict. The Norman Marcher lords invaded and conquered Deheubarth, briefly bringing all of Wales under Norman rule.

Blackthorn, located in southern Wales, takes issue with being invaded.

Arm the rebels and resistance and then use magic in the night to wipe out troops. Fast quiet kills with PeCo the bodies so that soldiers just die in the dark and scare the army into retreating. ReMe someone in army to have a fit and speak prophecy of doom and destruction if they don't turn back. Hit the supply lines and put disease in the food they do have.

If you are good at it, you can destroy their will to fight and they will retreat.

Plus bad weather, commanders who suddenly have no will to fight or flee on their own, a spreading fear among the soldiers (it's contagious, after all), scout patrols that disappear to a man - it all adds up in the medieval mind.

Makes the diplomacy end that much more attractive to the invader.

Of course, Norman England is a fairly large force to take on.

This is why you play up the superstitious fear and omens of doom (play to common superstitions). The anything that can go wrong does go wrong. This saps the will to fight and invade rather than fighting the armies. Make them give it up for a more auspicious time.

Then you approach with offer of diplomacy.

I think some accidents to correct the line of succession, combined with framing some mundane enemies of the king might work.
I see a problem in the quaesitor present. He might spoil all the fun.

Depends if he's willing to blink at what he might not "know" is a breech. If the army blows up one night, that would be a problem. If the commander disappears and the army leaves... who says he has to ask questions that he really doesn't need to know the answer to?

You might bemoan the Tytalus more - he could go a little soft in the head and not want the army to leave - what a great challenge wasted.

The Guernicus would only necessarily prevent the most obvious magic, not any magic. As with many crimes against generally accepted "bad guys", the police won't see a need to investigate unless the perpetrators are really heavy-handed at what they do.

Because nobody would ever play a magus who doesn't have offensive spells... >.>

There's so many ways to get rid of an army without touching them - use Aquam to mess with their water supply, or MuHe and MuTe (or even just CrIm) to make their landmarks move until they're hopelessly lost... there's a thousand things you can do, some of which don't involve any magus even seeing the army at all. Tell a local faerie lord that the army's coming to chop down his forest, and get him to deal with the problem, or use the ridiculous sums of silver the average autumn covenant has to just buy them off, just shrug and deal with the new king - the one the magi got along with is dead now, after all.

As my favorite storyguide likes to say, Ars Magica is all about fitting a square peg in a round hole - and right now, all of the suggestions I've been seeing are various kinds of round peg.

Historically the best solution if pride isn't at stake is to let the english conquer and then go geurilla tactics on them. An army disperses after each conquest back to their own lands and only a token garrison remains to try to keep control. Much easier to wipe out, probably with no help from the magi needed, the welsh were in the resistence line for a few hundred years. The main problem with this is that the English in the long term aren't going to give up and another invasion will come along in several years time.

That sounds to me like the magi of the covenant have pride issues and want to make a loud objection to invasion of their personal land. They need to make a show to scare people away from their covenant.

A story a welsh rper once told me may offer a good solution. One of the english invasions of wales took a path through a bog, the entire army or most of it sank and drowned - leading to preserved corpses etc. So let the blackthorn magi work out a ritual MuTe spell to turn the land, drown the army, and then use another ritual, ReMe for necromancy, to trap the spirits into haunting. Their territory goes from being valauble farmland and thus a prize, into a cursed haunted swamp which is worthless to the invaders, and no one would dare invade the territory again. The price is a loss of income as the land that supports the covenant becomes less valuable, but as it becomes more magical it might develop other interesting bonuses.

No one's mentioned trying to make a deal with any local magical creatures or fae to harass the invaders without giving the magi direct involvement. If a bunch of swamp fae and will-o-the-wisps lead a formation of knights into drowning in a bog, I'm pretty sure the Quaesitores won't be interested unless they get obvious hints that the dark fae wouldn't have done that on their own.

Similarly, dragons and giants and similar often like to beat up on mundanes, so if you can find a helpful one, more power to you - this would likely lead to other stories about how you can pay off the dragon/giant/whatever to go away.

It's probably Paris' (my character) simple Bonisagus way of handling things that ensures that our covenant never leaves the dealings with mundane lords to him, but let me brain storm about his solution:

Another kingly figure is invading the kingdom in which you and your covenant live. The Code stipulates that you are not allowed to blast mundanes, but you are allowed to defend yourself when somebody openly attacks you, right?
So, Paris would go upto the invading king, and explain that fact straightforward and simple. "I am bound by a code of honour not to attack you unless you attack me first. So leave our lands in peace and you have little to fear from me. Perhaps his majesty is not familiar with my order, let me introduce your lordship to one of the most basic capabilities of a wizard."
<this is where I engulf myself in flames, let the walls grab all the guards within reach and make the water pond outside the castle tower rise up to greet me (yes, he's an elementalist)>
"Me and my seven Sodales hope to invite your lordship to our humble estate when he has officially declared himself our neighbour."

Hm, looking back at what Paris would likely do, it is perhaps best that the other Magi do the political things. :blush:

I have a certain maga who (in wales/england) would equip a nine wolf hounds with a ward vs wood, the equivilent ward vs metal and stone. Put the same spells on her with a ward against flesh too and then change her head to be antlered and charge into troops of the enemy as an imitation wild hunt. Their weapons bound off and hounds kill with bites and she kills them with spells all shouting about vengence against their king who descrated holy lands with bloodshed. Then when ready, she would use a ReCo(an) with target group to cause the group to vanish.

Do this a couple of times and you will have a mutiny in attacking army ranks. Especially as all weapons bounce off.

If you are an elementalist though, you can have the earth just grab and pull at their boots so they can't march more than a couple hundred yards a day even as you sabotage their supply lines.

The kingdom you live in is invaded by a powerful nation and the old king killed, his troupes scattered?
Fighting the invading forces seems to be a good option to avoid becoming a victim of war.
But be aware: Any successfull attempt to destroy either the army itself or its capability to wage war will lead to:
1.) Problems in the tribunal as this is clearly meddling with mundanes and endangering ones sodales. You might face charges at tribunal!
2.) Hostility from the powerful nation resulting in further battles/assassinations etc. and MORE MEDDLING!

Somehow I like:

Thus, I would recommend the following tactics.
Let the invaders sack your land, make them remember they looted everything value, make the leaders remember destroying that insignificant keep. Just keep your magical resources save.
Until next year's campaign research and cast a version of shrouded glen and some CrIm depicting the convent in ruins. They will not bother you again and no lord will show up for taxes. You simply vanished from the mundanes' maps and concience.
All magic used to reach this goal might as well be looked benevolent upon by most quaesitores as the result is a state wished by many: No interference with mundanes.
As for your silver income. An autumn convent should have enough resources and power to bulid up a new source of income distant from the convent itself.

Given that it is permissible to defend your holdings, I'd make a flashy show that explained to the invaders that keeping the same deal with the new lord as the old lord would be much preferable to a conflict. The tricky part would be weather or not others in the tribunal could justify a charge of interference. This might be preferable anyway, as it is likely to just result in a fine of some sort.